Design your School’s Air Quality Management to be a Growth and Profit Maker

by Achim Haug

In most cases, schools approach the topic of air quality from a risk and health perspective and thus seeing it purely as a necessary evil/cost to fulfill international air quality standards and regulations. Often also parents pressure plays an additional role in getting the school committed to upgrading their ventilation systems towards clean air.

The implementation of these upgrades is most often done by the operations and maintenance department of schools and thus not integrated into the strategic development plan of the school.

This is a big mistake.

There is a huge growth and profit opportunity if schools approach the topic of air quality management from a business development perspective rather from an operational perspective because it actually enables the school to develop unique selling propositions that other schools lack and provides a base for accelerated growth.

Steps to implement a growth-oriented air quality management approach:

Cross-disciplinary implementation team

For successful implementation of this growth strategy, it is important that the school setups an implementation team consisting of representatives from the following areas:

  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Parent representative
  • Teacher representative
  • Health representative e.g. from the medical center
  • Principal or Vice Principal

This team or committee should be chaired by the principal or vice-principal and each of the members should contribute in the following way:

Marketing should from the very beginning think how clean classroom air can be successfully integrated into the school’s marketing material and website.

Operations would be needed to help evaluate the technical aspects of the purification solution, e.g. if existing systems could be upgraded and support the installation of the purification system.

Parents and teacher representatives support the communication to their respective groups and to be there to answer questions/concerns and to ensure that the whole school community understands the importance of the project.

Health representatives are important to ensure that the system meets international standards on air quality and to educate the community on the health impacts of unhealthy air.

The principals are essential to ensure that the right decisions are taken and that the overall school strategic perspective is taken into consideration.

Guaranteed Targets versus Specs

Most air management vendors will try and convince schools to buy certain equipment and heavily focus on the specifications of the air handling units, e.g. promising a certain clean air delivery rate (CADR). We strongly advise against these vendors because certain specifications do not guarantee you that the students actually breathe clean air. You should look for vendors that are actually able to promise you specific guaranteed targets (e.g. meeting WHO standards) within the classroom. Only then can you be sure that the students actually benefit.

This guarantee is also extremely important for the marketing of the school because it allows you to use the guarantee of the vendor back-to-back in your marketing material and you can guarantee the same air quality targets in your marketing brochures.

Internal and external transparency on the air quality

In the past sometimes air quality vendors installed sensors to measure the air quality in the air handling units. This data was used by operations to ensure that the units were working. However, this is falling short in two aspects:

  1. The data was only measured in air ducts and not the actual air that the students’ breath. It was also not covering all the classrooms and thus an overall exposure of students was unknown.
  2. The data was purely seen as operational indicators but not as powerful marketing data.

The data that a school-wide air quality sensor network can provide is an excellent source for marketing namely:

  • You can provide real-time air quality data on screens on campus and on the website thus proofing prospective parents that your school has clean air
  • Reports allow you to see the overall reduction of the students’ exposure to dirty air throughout the school year and use it in your school’s brochure
  • Some air monitoring companies will certify you that your school meets WHO standards and can be used an independent certification

From Costs to Opportunities

Often the costs for ensuring that your school has guaranteed clean air can be recovered by just a few additional students attending the school -especially as these systems have normally a very long lifetime.

So it is actually very easy to justify this investment as demonstrated with the following chart:

Create a true Win-Win situation

If you follow this opportunity and growth-driven approach to air quality in schools you create a true win-win situation:

Win for the Students: The most important aspect is that you create a huge positive health impact for your students.

Win for the School: By systematically integrating the clean air into your marketing and communication material you will be able to attract a substantial of new students and quickly turn the costs of implementation into an ongoing profit machine.

If you are interested to learn more about this approach, please feel free to get in touch with us!

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